Rock of Ages [2012]

Directed by: Adam Shankman
Written by: Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo and Allan Loeb
Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Paul Giamatti and Tom Cruise.

I’m a sucker for musicals. There’s something about a great song-and-dance number that always puts me in a good mood and tattoos a smile on my face. I braved the scathing reviews and told myself that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as the pundits and bloggers were saying. After all, Shankman is responsible for one of the better movie musicals in recent years, the perky Hairspray. I guess it had to be seen to be believed.

Since I think my scattered thoughts on the movie won’t make for a good review, in its place I give you a handy guide in the form of a table, dissecting the pros and cons of this film adaptation of the stage musical. You do the math.

The Good

The Bad

The Ugly

(Maybe I’m biased but) Mexican actor Diego Boneta’s smooth voice and almost imperceptible accent This movie doesn’t know subtle. I know I shouldn’t ask for subtlety from a musical that’s based on 80’s metal bands, but I don’t like it when I’m whacked over the head with bad jokes and forced references. Alec Baldwin’s look. Seriously, wow. I don’t know what Russell Brand ever saw in him. Which brings me to…
Alec Baldwin and Catherine Zeta-Jones (I’m grouping these kids together because they just barely did an OK job).  Zeta-Jones’s work in particular is not exactly comeback-worthy, but it’s good enough. Webster’s Dictionary might want to consider “Rock of Ages” as an example for when people look up the definition of “unfunny” The whole Baldwin-and-Brand-being-in-love thing. Stupid idea. I didn’t believe it for a second. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley looked more in love. Sorry if you think I’ve spoiled an important plot but you’ll be able to sniff it out as soon as the movie starts. Like I said, it doesn’t know subtle.
Tom Cruise is the saving grace and the real highlight of this booze-soaked mess of a movie. He still lights up the screen and retains that old movie-star magnetism. He also looks and sounds and moves like all the rock idols the movie is trying to pay homage to. His appearance as “Stacee Jaxx” confirms his deal with the Devil. 50 year-old people do not look that way. Julianne Hough’s voice. Not awful, but auto-tuned into oblivion and just a bit irritating (perhaps from all the Auto-Tune). The fact that she looks like late-90’s Christina Aguilera makes us yearn for a bigger voice all the more. The first sex scene between Malin Akerman and Tom Cruise’s characters (set to Foreigner’s annoying “I want to Know What Love is”, no less). Embarrassing. Only the super-long nude sequence in Borat is less sexy than this. Seriously, recovering sex addicts should see it. They’d be instantly cured.
Cameos by Constantine Maroulis (Idol contestant who played Drew in the stage musical) and Eli Roth! I know this is a Hollywood musical but the love story is incredibly rushed.

“I’m Sherrie, I’ve just been mugged and I love rock music”. “Hi, I’m Drew and rock rocks”. “I love you”. “I love you too. Let’s go and sing of our love all over LA landmarks”.

  Julianne Hough’s genericness. Yes, she’s very pretty and Ryan Seacrest is a very lucky man, bla bla bla, but there are tons of pretty blonde chicks that can carry a tune out there.  
  It all feels like a longer, less fun episode of Glee.  
  The terrible writing would make Stephenie Meyer cringe.  
  The “Z-Guyeezz”. I know late-80’s/early-90’s boy bands were cheesy, but COME ON.  
  Paul Giamatti and Bryan Cranston phone it in. I don’t think Giamatti is the most versatile actor out there, but Cranston should’ve at least tried a little harder.  
  Nonsensical ending. That’s all I’m gonna say.  
  None of the musical sequences really stand out (at least not in a positive way).  
  Movie musicals are supposed to be light and fun. Neither of those mean bad and dumb.